Heirs of the World – The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost


let us pray
heavenly father thank you for this
beautiful summer sunday
morning here in july
father i just want to thank you for each
and every life
that’s a member of this church or
attends this church
i want to pray a special thank you
for all who are healthy i’m thank you
that so
many of us are here in church healthy
and i want to thank you for all of all
of those who are at home
and are yet healthy and
don’t have covid and father we also have
others who
are struggling with other health issues
and we pray for comfort healing
and your miraculous care for them
father we thank you for this church
family we thank you that jesus has
called us in righteousness
to be his people the family of god
and so we pray that our worship today
would be sweet in your sight
in jesus name all god’s people said
please be seated
what we’re looking at we’re continuing
in our
series the reign of grace and we’re
looking at romans but
you know if you’ve noticed in our
luxionary the last few weeks we’ve been
going through
also the parables of the kingdom
and in this morning’s reading it talks
a man who finds a pearl of great price
or treasure in a field and and and when
he finds
this pearl he goes and sells
everything to buy
this pearl and that’s the kingdom of god
it’s it’s precious that’s what jesus
it’s precious and probably no
book expresses the preciousness of what
jesus has done for us than the book of
the book of romans goes into more detail
what jesus has actually accomplished for
us than really
most new testament books maybe it’s
parallelist hebrews
and so as we look back at our passage
this morning and we talk about it
i want to do a little back step i want
to step up
you know take a couple steps back and go
back to the simple
idea of faith faith is one of those
words one of those ideas that we throw
around a lot
in the christian life and for good
it’s at the heart of what we do
but this passage in romans is very
special because
it’s like god carves
out you know as as paul is going through
the book of romans
he’s carving out and just the way a
um a sculptor chisels away and an
image emerges that image of what god has
done is emerging more
now i said that michelangelo before he
would start
one of his works he would imagine it he
would imagine
an angel or something
and then it was his job to free the
from the stone and that was his job it
was his job to free
king david from
the stone and that’s in in many ways in
lack of understanding of what god has
fully done for us
paul is chiseling away
and making that beautiful picture of
what god
done emerge and you know i get
time to bask in the word of god but i
could spend my whole life
in romans we could spend our whole life
in the scriptures and never
plumb the depths and so i want to ask i
want to go back to just
a very simple concept a simple question
what is faith what
is faith lest we go through the book and
not define it well enough what is faith
and paul’s really defining that here but
i want to put kind of a sharp
edge on it and i’ll begin by saying this
faith is not
just believe in belief in god’s
not just facts about god but trust in
god as a
person that’s a big difference it’s a
difference to say
i believe that the sky
is blue during the day or i believe that
the moon
orbits the earth because it’s something
we understand is kind of a fact i
that napoleon lost at waterloo
but to say about some other person
i trust them
well that’s not something anyone else
can contest
i either choose to trust them or i don’t
and i either have good reason to trust
or i don’t and herein lies the virtue of
it is loyal to the person
the character and the very integrity
of the person you see when you trust
someone you believe in their integrity
when you distrust somebody
you don’t believe in their integrity
and have we ever thought about it that
way church that when we doubt
god we’re actually doubting
his character and integrity
that puts a whole different spin
on unbelief doesn’t it because it’s not
just my opinion anymore
now it’s an insult to the creator it’s
it’s an insult to the one who actually
formed us in our mother’s womb
and gives us breath daily and holds the
and the orbit of the planets and the
whole universe
in order for us
and the question for you is have you
ever had your own
integrity wrongly questioned
how did that make you feel
that gets under your skin like a chigger
anybody know what a chigger is you know
what a chigger in anyone ever had a
chigger before
just a few people when you get south of
southern united united states you get
these things called chiggers where you
scratch your skin
and they burrow under your skin and they
live there for a while
and you need special medicine or nail
polish to smother them and kill them
but they burn they burn they get
under they literally burrow under your
and they are unbun
so when someone misreads our motives and
actions and infer ill intent when you
meant no
ill intent that gets under your skin
that makes you angry that makes you
frustrated that makes you
and c.s lewis
put it this way in his article the
obstinacy of
belief he says no man is our friend
who believes in our good intentions only
when they are approved
no man is our friend who will not
be very slow to accept evidence against
the question for us is
are we the friends of god do we believe
that you could turn c.s lewis’s
statement in
no man is god’s friend
who believes god’s intentions only when
they are approved
and how many a time in disbelief
somebody has said to us about our own
faith well if god’s real why don’t he
prove it
is c.s lewis right with this statement i
think so
i think so he says later he says our
relation to those who trust us only
after we are proved
innocent in a court cannot be the same
as our relation
to those who trusted us all the way
there’s a different bond you have to
somebody if you weren’t guilty
if you truly weren’t guilty and everyone
else forsook you and then
when you were your name was cleared and
you they came back to you and like oh
i’m so glad your name is clear and they
slap you on the back
you’d be coming yeah yeah thanks
compared to those people like i believe
you todd
i don’t think you did that i don’t think
you did that
and that’s the kind of faith that god’s
looking for in us because the difference
god and us is there’s nothing fallible
in his character there’s no
way in which he can fail
you see we all have a breaking point we
all have a point at which our integrity
we can put under enough stress
and fear and anxiety to get the most
honest christian
to lie right
and we and if we’re honest with
ourselves we we do it sometimes you know
we’ve all had that somebody asked to do
something and we didn’t want to do it
and instead of just saying
i really don’t feel like doing it right
now he said well i got this thing to do
and then we didn’t do it right
like we do those kind of things
but the key thing about our faith
is that as lewis says is it’s not i
believe god exists
it’s i believe in god i believe god
i believe in god the father almighty
maker of heaven and earth
and that is what our justification
is based in and that faith is not all
on us god’s a part of that
god’s redeeming our unbelief we can
cry with that man and the gospel says
lord i believe
help my unbelief
you see what i don’t want you to hear me
saying is that if you feel weak
in faith and that you don’t feel that
your faith is perfect
that god is condemning you because
that’s not what i’m saying
jesus sent god sent his son who had
perfect faith in his father to die on
the cross
and he didn’t just die for
every sin we’ve ever committed but he
died for the sin
that everyone that’s behind every one of
our sins
which is the sin of unbelief that’s the
of all sins when we sin
when we look at what we shouldn’t look
at or we
bask in what we shouldn’t bask in or we
say something about somebody we
shouldn’t say
or we do whatever we do that is not
glorifying to god behind it
is momentary lapse in belief
but doing it god’s way is ultimately the
best way
and so this passage is all about
faith if you look at verse 1 he says
what then shall we say was gained by
abraham our forefather according to the
for if abraham was justified by works he
has something to boast about
but not before god for what does the
scripture say
abraham believed god and it was counted
to him
as righteousness
abraham’s faith wavered too you remember
sarah gives him her handmaid hagar
and they try to make the promise happen
on their own
because they’re not okay with god’s
timing and they have ishmael
but that wasn’t god’s plan and it’s
for us to know that the father of
of all the faithful abraham had a lapse
him and sarah had a lapse in faith in
and tried to fulfill the judgment in
their fulfilled the promise in their own
but he nevertheless says abraham
believed god and it was
counted to him as righteousness and this
word is all through romans
counted accounted
imputed reckoned and it’s used really in
two ways in scripture to think and
and and ruminate on something to
and also in a more accounting type way
account and count up at one point it
says jesus was
numbered with transgressors which is
the same word here he was counted among
even though he did not sin and so this
thing is sets up this idea that there is
a balance sheet
before god and at the bottom of it is
this big
amount due you’ve seen them come in the
right we always hate that mail like i
like getting letters but i don’t like
getting them from
my bills
and it has a massive amount due
and jesus’s death burial and
zeroes out that account it zeroes out
that account jesus comes in and he pays
that a debt debt and that’s what paul is
saying here he says it’s counted to him
as righteousness
what we have is this huge debt at the
bottom of our balance sheet that says
unrighteous balance
horribly overdrawn
in debt to our eyeballs with god
and jesus comes in and zeroes out
the account and the miracle of the
gospel is that god wants to justify
sinners to have fellowship with them
god god wants fellowship
with you
do you realize that you see how simple
that is
god wants fellowship with you
with you susan
with you paulette
with each and every one of you you’re
that important to god
that god wants eternal fellowship
with you he wants that debt paid
and he pays that debt
and he gives us a righteousness he will
regard us as
righteousness if we just trust him as a
person and he gives us something
that is totally alien to us what
luther martin luther called
an alien righteousness something that is
outside of our own abilities
and so he talks about our works and our
attempts to justify ourselves and how it
fails in verse 4 he says no one
who works now to the one who works his
wages are not counted
as a gift but as his due and to the one
who does not work but believes in him
who justifies the ungodly his faith
is counted as righteousness he gives us
two options
the way of the righteous and the way of
the wicked
the way of faith or the way of works
and again that doesn’t mean we don’t
obey god’s commandments we do
in fact you cannot obey god’s
commandments apart from faith
you can’t keep them perfectly because we
still struggle with our sin nature in
this life
but that’s what god’s doing what god
wants is righteous people who stop
sinning and so in this life he gives us
the spirit and he begins to work
and to work that junk out the way you
scrub a stain out of a carpet that’s
what the spirit’s doing
in our life but god accounts
the whole debt as
you see he says we’re going to see it
later in romans
6 23 it says for the wages of sin is
but the free gift of god is eternal life
through christ
jesus our lord now what now what is a
what is a wage wage is something i’m
owed i do something you say hey will you
paint the side of my house and i go
the side of your house and i agree that
you’re going to pay me
ten dollars an hour or whatever it is
and now you owe me that that’s my wage
but what he says is the wages of sin is
death and he’s connecting it to the one
who works
because what he’s already established
earlier in the book is that none is
righteous no not one
we have a big debt and that debt is so
that it can’t be paid but there’s more
there’s more bad news on that
thank god for the gospel that this is
all good news but there’s more bad debt
on and and i was like
how do i express this
to them and this is what i came up with
i came up with kind of a farm analogy
so let’s just say you’re a farmer
and you’ve got another farmer and he
wants to buy
10 bulls from you to breed
with his 100 cows right
and he pays you xyz i don’t know how
a bull goes for let’s say he pays you
a thousand dollars apiece right
and your commitment is to deliver to him
10 healthy bulls and when he does that
they’re going to breed and they’re going
to multiply and they’re going to make
him money
but what if you delivered to him
diseased bulls who not only
died themselves but infected his whole
and killed off almost all his herd
do you think he would sue you so now not
only did you
did your works for him make you no money
now you’re in more debt than ever that
is what paul is saying about human works
trying to work our way to heaven
it actually increases the debt
because even our works aren’t good
enough to impress
god they aren’t good enough to earn
points there’s one person whose works
are good enough to oppress the heavenly
and that’s jesus and his works
are yours and mine
by faith and that truly is
good news as
david says blessed are those
whose lawless deeds are forgiven whose
sins are covered
blessed is the man against whom the lord
will not count sin
i just think it’s it’s really good to
take a moment to reverse that
and hear how that sounds reversed cursed
is the man whose lawless deeds are not
cursed is the man against whom the lord
counts sin
sometimes the negative is a little more
impactful gets our attention and so
abraham in verse 9 it says is this
only for the circumcised or also for the
for we say the faith was accounted to
abraham as righteous
how then was it counted to him was it
or after he had been circumcised
was not after
but before he was circumcised and this
is the crux
of his argument right here to the jews
about the gentiles
you see he’s doing something really
subtle here
what he’s reminding them is that abraham
began as a gentile
and if abraham can begin as a gentile
everybody can
if he can become the father of all the
by faith alone before he was circumcised
then everyone can become a part of god’s
family and the children of abraham
by faith see what is it that made
abraham abram the man of god it was
nothing but
faith abraham was not a jew
but an amorite and he became the father
of the jews he became the father of the
faithful by trusting the promise by
trusting what god said to him
you see he received justification by
in his uncircumcision so that
so then so can any other nation
abraham then becomes the father of many
nations that’s the promise right
you become the father of many nations
and so he received the sign of
circumcision and the seal
of the righteousness that he had by
while he was still uncircumcised and
this is very important here
he uses the word seal and the idea of a
seal was
important in the ancient world because
when they’d make a document
they would take clay and a stamp a
signet ring
and they’d put a cygnus seal on it
and it would certify that document
but here’s the deal what he’s saying
here it’s a sign and seal
stamped on something else it gives it
the stamp
it gives the receiver some assurance
but what is the substance the substance
is the letter itself
the seal is totally secondary and that’s
what he’s saying to the jews about
and it applies as well to us about
our baptism is a sign and seal of the
righteousness of faith
but nobody gets to heaven on the
on the simple idea of just being
and i’ve heard preachers say it before
so-and-so is in heaven because they were
that’s not what scriptures teach at all
it’s a seal
on the substance itself and if if an
king or dignitary sent the letter and
that letter said do x
y z the seal only gave it
more authority told the person it came
from this person but it’s the authority
of that person
and what they actually say to do which
is the substance
that’s what matters and that’s what paul
is coming back to here
and so circumcision as a seal it’s kind
of like
a car baptism and circumcision
are a car but if you don’t put gas
in it faith and you don’t put someone by
behind the wheel to drive it
spirit it won’t get to your
destination and so looking at baptism or
as salvation of itself is like saying
i am going to make it to my destination
simply by owning
a toyota and that’s not the way it works
it’s a vehicle it’s something that god
uses to communicate and so
as we wrap up
we can ask this question what does god
want from us
what does god want from me
what does god want from you
god wants is an authentic trust
bound relationship with him
that’s how he imputes righteousness to
a true trust bound relationship
abraham believed god means that he
god as truthful to believe
god is as much to say i
to believe in him at all times in all
as martin luther put it it is to trust
alone that god ascribes the whole
of christ’s work and his righteousness
to us
based on a simple act of childlike
faith see
faith plus nothing
is the path to god
if someone once put it jesus
plus nothing is everything
but jesus plus something is nothing
and so we could say faith
plus something is nothing but
that faith plus nothing equals
everything that’s what god’s calling us
and god has given us the kingdom of god
in earth and vessels amen

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